For the first time, a new imaging device has enabled scientists to see tumour cells travelling in the brain.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine used a novel cryo-imaging technique to obtain the unprecedented look at a mouse model of glioblastoma multiforme, a particularly aggressive cancer that has no treatments to stop it from spreading.
"We're able to see things we couldn't before, and we can use these images to understand how tumour cells invade and disperse," said Susann M. Brady-Kalnay, a professor of molecular biology and microbiology at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, and senior author of the paper.
That information, in turn, can be used to help develop and test the effectiveness of drugs and other therapies used to treat the cancer, she said.
To obtain the view, the scientists used a model that included four different cell lines of brain cancers at various stages of tumour development and dispersion. The cancer cells were modified with fluorescent markers and implanted in the model's brain in collaboration with Biomedical Engineering Professor James Basilion's lab.
The lead researchers, Susan Burden-Gulley, Mohammed Qutaish and Kristin Sullivant, found that two cell lines, a human brain cancer LN229, and a rodent cancer CNS-1, best resemble the actions of glioblastoma multiforme in human patients.
The work will be published in the journal Cancer Research.